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The Communicators

Hurricane Sandy News/Business. (2012) The impact Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy had on communications and what it revealed about the telecommunications system during emergencies. New.

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00:30:00

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Comcast Cable

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Channel 91 (627 MHz)

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mpeg2video

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ac3

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704

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480

TOPIC FREQUENCY

Us 8, Sandy 7, Manhattan 5, Mr. Mudge 3, Mccabe 2, Katrina 2, Fema 2, Christopher Guttman-mccabe 2, Mr. Guttman-mccabe 1, Christie 1, Mr. Guttman 1, Christopher Dodd Guttman 1, Workthe Network 1, The Wireless Association 1, Mobil 1, Tele-communications 1, At&t 1, Rverizon 1, Mudge 1, New Yorkers 1,
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  CSPAN    The Communicators    Hurricane Sandy  News/Business.  (2012) The impact  
   Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy had on communications and what it...  

    November 24, 2012
    6:30 - 6:59pm EST  

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on telecommunications systems. later, we will talk about the evolution of facebook. >> this week on "newsmakers," iu arenions like the sei looking for. >> one of the major effects of hurricane sandy was on telecommunications. that is our topic this week on "the communicators. christopher guttman-mccabe, what was overall the effect of sandy on your member organizations?
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>> if you do not mind, i would like to take a half step back and provide a little perspective on this storm and ultimately the impact it had. if you listen to mayor bloomberg, who said that the damage was unprecedented, that maybe the worst damage the city has ever faced, and the tidal surge, which was 14 feet -- governor christie said that the damage to new jersey was unthinkable. we had massive flooding. if you look at the snow and the shutdown of the stock exchange and flooding in the subway, you get a sense of the massive scale and scope of this storm. yet the networks performed. i have read dozens of stories in the last couple weeks about how for many consumers, their only link to information or to people was through their smartphones.
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while there was an impact on cell sites, the networks performed very well. >> 25% of sell power coverage went down. are they hurricane-proof? >> 25% of cell towers were impacted, not service. some towers are capacity based to add extra capacity in high- tech -- high traffic areas. a lot of them are to provide basic service. when you say 25% were impacted, that does not mean service was down by that. some were impacted. our towers rely on power. i think we found out and sandy that some of it was a there was a lack of power. by power, we're not talking hours. weekstalking days and
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without power. and yet we were able to get generators in there, get additional fuel, make sure where towers went down the were critical towers, we got them up pretty quickly. as an industry, you saw those numbers went down the next day and the day after that. you saw creative efforts by carriers, some of them linking networks together. others getting fuel very quickly out to the generators so that the cell sites were backed up and running. it seems like the press has proved this out, a lot of folks were able to utilize their phones despite the fact that there was not power. >> mr. guttman-mccabe, a lot of people have kept landlines for emergencies. it appears right now that it looks like wireless phones were
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more reliable than the fiber- optic, the non copper wire lines. >> sure. the reality is, we are talking a storm of almost biblical proportions. it had an impact on the wireline and it works. also had an impact on the subways, all transportation and bridges and tunnels. the reality is, this was something that caused some serious impact on infrastructure. the wireless networks performed pretty well. part of that is the efforts by the carriers in advance of the storm to preposition materials, to make sure that they had backed up supplies in place, and wherever possible, they do have backup power. in instances where they could, they brought in satellite trucks to use satellite to back call the information, -- back haul the information, using
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generators, using batteries to keep the network up and running. >> about emergency communications? >> from our perspective, the public safety ports, very few of them went down. they had a nice backup power in place. they were consolidated. we saw that 911 worked well. the mayor's office in new york city talked about, use text in were of you can. leave the phone calls to 911, the really important calls. otherwise use text in order data connections to gather information. >> did it get flooded with information? >> usage was pretty tremendous.
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whenever you have an issue where there is a lot of people who need information, you find that the networks get flooded. i saw the numbers up to 15,000% increase on some websites. in a lot of the applications stores, the apps that ran to the top or ones that give access information, or the mobil flashlight. -- mobile flashlight. there was a surge in traffic, but i did not see numbers that suggested there was a significant amount of call blocking or dropping. the networks handled the search pretty well. >> we're taping this interview on november 50. i was in lower manhattan last night. i had a lot of trouble connecting on my ipad and on my cell phone. is that still do to sandy? >> there are still areas -- areas that do not have power in the boroughs and lower manhattan that to not have power.
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there will be a time period before we get back up to full capacity again. that is not for lack of trying. it is important to remind people that the folks the run these companies are also consumers, family members. their goal is to make sure these networks are up and running, personally and professionally. as folks moved out of their houses, one of the employees' houses were destroyed, they move to the company quarters, to the store fronts to run their operations from there. it is an effort, when you see a storm of this magnitude, it is really an effort to get things back to status quo. >> christopher guttman-mccabe, your industry prevented or fought fcc recommendations that
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there be back up power at cell on as, and las tweek on a blt k blog post you said that eight hour and mandated that the power would not be a panacea anyway because of this storm. >> if you can visualize the scope of the storm as it approached the coast, the storm was not even through the area with eight hours had passed. many people lost their power. the storm was still getting them for another 12-24 hours. 400 hoursing 360 to without power in some our -- areas. when you're talking at in the context of a mandated eight our backup requirement, certainly it would not have been a panacea. to be able to move assets and, relocate assets from areas that were not hard hit, and utilize resources in a way that makes the networks run well, i think
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if you look back at the hurricane katrina recommendations, they were for voluntary, flexible framework. we did not disagree with the goal of the fcc to keep the networks running. that is in every carrier's best interest. it is how you go about doing that. for us, when you look a storm of this magnitude, is having the ability to react, move assets around. carriers have to put in thousands of feet of cables to drag cables of to the rooftops to power generators so that we could have cell sites working. >> let's go back to katrina in 2005. what investment have wireless companies done to improve the reliability? >> in every instance possible, putting in backup power. we put towers in on church
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steeples, on the side of buildings in major metropolitan areas. in closets within buildings. it becomes difficult in certain areas to have backup power. the carriers try to put in batteries were the cannot put in generators. where they can put in generators, the put in as much fuel as allowed. when you are working with building codes or resigning -- zoning restrictions or environmental laws and limitations, you have to work within those confines. the carrier's learned something with every natural disaster, every storm the face. they learn, what is the right for to put equipment on the tax touch fuel do you need? -- -- right floor to put equipment on, how much fuel do you need? they learn how to coordinate with first responders in
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advance. we meet with the mat and the department of homeland security and fcc -- fema and the department of homeland security and fcc to make sure that the folks have the right credentials in place to be able to get through blockades that public safety puts in place. the investment is ongoing, it is tremendous, to make sure that these networks continue to run. >> what is the cost of this storm to your member organizations? >> it is not something that anyone really looks at. i think they look at it as part of the business of making sure the networks are up and running, that consumers continue -- i have not seen a number. i do not expect i will. it is important in the context of the company continuing to operate, but it pales in comparison to the desire to keep the networks up and running. >> will consumers see a rate
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increase? >> i do not expect so. we generally do not focus on the sorts of things. when you look for the effort and the desire to keep networks running, that is something that is paramount to this company's. >> and finally, mr. guttman- mccabe, if the fcc looks at this issue of sandy and telecommunications, what are you going to tell them? >> and we share the same goals as a government official, to make sure that workthe network p and running. insuring education, people understand the scale and scope of this disaster. the networks performed very well. work with public safety and work with government officials to
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make sure that people have access to fuel when it is necessary, they can get their supplies through, they're not subject to parking restrictions or restrictions on high occupancy vehicle lanes. that fuel is not confiscated. new york and new jersey did a great job. >> christopher dodd guttman- mccabe is the vice president of regulatory affairs at ctia, the wireless association. you're watching "the communicators" on c-span. joining us from new jersey is a robert much, the president of consumer and mass business markets and for rverizon. what was the overall effect of hurricane sandy on verizon in the northeast? >> i want to get right into that. my heart goes out to all the people i have seen and the
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millions impacted, customers and other people from this storm. it has been great to be out with our employees and see what people are coming through together. this was a pretty impact will storm. it hit us right in the middle of our operating area in new jersey. it had a path that was 1,000 miles wide. impacted us in physical distribution, cables, both from the wind and storm surge, and in our central office facilities where we lost power and are backed up power process really had to kick in and carry over 300 central offices that were impacted at the peak of the storm. >> how many folks lost power? has everyone got it back on? >> based on the width of the
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footprint, we have upwards to 6 million of our customers who had lost power. folks really felt the impact. we felt that on the central office side as well. at the peak of the storm, we had over 1 million customers out of service. all of the fios customers, when the power came back, most of this service was restored. we're doing the final touches on the physical replacement of polls and cables. in many cases, we had to work with or go in after the power was restored and we were safe. one of the lessons learned was that fiber is very resilient, and we had good success with that network. on the central office side, we had other very important impact. many people are aware of the impact on southern manhattan, where the storm surge actually
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took out the power plants from both are west street and broad street central offices. that is right down in that southern tip of manhattan. all of those central offices are back, one way or another. the vast majority are commercial power. we have a handful that are still on generators. including broad street. my partner and i expect the to be back inc.o. a couple of days. >> mr., mudge are there limits when it comes to an emergency? a 40% of americans do not have landlines anymore. >> the cell phone network, i can speak a little bit more broadly -- even at the height of the storm, our wireless network was operating at 94% capacity. we are already back to full
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capacity, pre storm. i think many people, not just to telecommunications, but with the power outage, learned and found out the electricity is very important along with telecommunications. it is a reminder, good wireline and could wire service is very helpful because they can help offset each other. >> the so-called triple play packages offered by the cable companies and verizon and others, do they have the same boat -- reliability as the old style telephones with the copper wires? >> it does. there is a little difference in the architecture. that makes a double but differed. by and large, we have seen that fiber is more resilient than copper. when the power is out, it will impact fios, although we have a battery backup. going back to your other point,
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when there is a crossover with wireless usage, that gives customers comfort in terms of their ability to make an emergency call or reach a loved one. when the power is out and tv is that isd pc's are down, impacted more broadly than just by tele-communications. we found that once we got power back, we returned service back to our fios customers quicker than we had with some of our copper customers. i happen to be in long beach, long island the other day, and it is a really good example -- a community with 16,000 customers -- are copper plans were still try to repair. i expect it will migrate the traditional copper plans over to fiber. 10,000 fios customers are back in service. a hurricane is one thing. a snowstorm can be another.
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i think the context of reliability needs to be thought through many different potential events, not just one. our data is very clear. the fiber is more resilient in a storm, and has greater opportunity for restoral. >> mr. mudge, i'd like to get a chance to get your response. "it is time for an honest conversation about network reliability in the wireless and digital age. it is time to ask hard questions about backup power." >> it is an interesting question. and it is one we have been asking ourselves and the horizon for decades. if you think about our wireless networks, they're all backed up with battery, most with generators. our central offices of lost power, 300 central offices, on
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top of commercial power, we have batteries and generators. our preparation before the storm had as starting generators, a topic of fuel and putting personal in key locations. it is a fair question, but when i'm very confident that at the rise and we have already asked, we will continue to ask -- at verizon that we have already asked, we will continue to ask. >> what has been improved since katrina in 2005 or 9/11? >> i was thinking about our discussion today and i was thinking about 9/11. part of what has improved is that we ourselves are resilient. we know how to handle major disaster. going through 9/11 and toughened up the entire team.
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it reminded us that we have a very fast company here, with assets and networks across the wireless, wireline traditional, wireline fios that together, in providing normal services and in time of recovery, give us the power to respond to customers faster. if we go back in recent times, our dedication to making sure that the backup power works and is reliable, we brent monthly honor generators, sometimes weekly, and we plan to prepare for these outages. that has been a strong reminder also. >> mr. mudge, about 25% of cell towers went out of service because of hurricane sandy. the "wall street journal" said, the fcc tried to require backup batteries.
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wireless carriers successfully sued to block the rule, arguing that the needed flexibility in how they provided backup power. are cell towers for verizon backup? >> yes. they are backed up. we have an emergency generator. those that do not, we can service with a generator in a matter of hours. from a factual standpoint, even at the peak of the storm with the vast power outages we had up and down the coast, 94% of our cell towers were operating. we were close to 99% a matter of days. >> you talked about telephone poles, and how many telephone poles you've had to replace. nearly 8000. what is the cost of that? >> is quite a cost. we are still adding up the cost. this is not a time for us to be
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as focused on cost as my cfo would like. we have been focused in getting the poles in quickly. we purchased 9000 of those polls in advance. in terms of the network and customer base that i manage, cost in the millions. i do not have a number yet. it will be substantial. >> do you know how much one telephone poll costs? >> anywhere from $300 up to $700. it depends on the woods of the pole and the height. >> mr. mudge, what happened in lower manhattan -- is there a
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thought of moving those facilities out of lower manhattan? >> at this time, there is not. the issue was power-related part are switch gear and telecommunications gear station was operational. all businesses were overwhelmed with the unprecedented storm surge. as we rebuild that area, we are relocating and redoubling our efforts to be with the power network, so some of the cases where we had our power plant below grade level or at ground level, we are done with this repositioning. we expect to have a lot more fiber in the ground, which is more resilient, and a power ble t that will be more a b to handle a storm surge. >> robert mudge it is president of the consumer and business mass-market for verizon.
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you are watching "newsmake"the communicators" on c-span. as we continue our look at the impact of hurricane sandy, we're joined by harold feld, a senior vice president of public knowledge. we have talked to ctia and horizon. both groups -- and verizon. both groups said that wireless services did well during sandy. >> my assessment is that some networks did well. we do not have solid information about this, there are no reporting requirements on these networks. there are no standards by which we measure their performance. it is entirely voluntary, whether they want to talk to the fcc or state and local governments or not. i take their word for it that they responded well.
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what i have anecdotally heard, some of these guys did less well. who did well, who did not do well, and how do we make sure that everyone is doing well? >> how do we make sure everyone is doing well? >> mitt romney said in a primary that if you can delegate stuff like fema from the federal government to the states or to the private sector, that is better. and then sandy hit, and everybody said, in an emergency, having federal coordination is good. having basic federal rules that tell everyone how to behave in a crisis, that is good. we have delegated to the private sector all of our emergency response for our cellular networks, for these new internet protocol based networks, like cable phone service, like vonage.
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when it comes to the old copper network, we know all about that. we have crews on call, it is self powered. reliability was built into that from day one. that is why new yorkers were scrambling for pay phones. they could not get their cellular cable service to work. we do not need to take old rules and put them on top of these networks. we do need to have the federal government and state government take a look at what happened and figure out what the ground rules are. what are the things you want to have in place before an emergency hits, and what are the things that you need to be doing before a crisis so that when the crisis hits, everyone is operating on the same page, everyone is moving, everyone is doing the best job they can to restore critical services. >> as someone who watches telecommunications, someone involved in the media access
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project for years, and now public knowledge, what do you think the starting point should be for mandated service or mandated rules? >> the starting point is, we need to take a look at what happened. that means, the first kind of mandate means you're going to sit down and tell us honestly what happened. it could be a conversation with regulators. tell us how wonderful it was an forget the fact it did not have enough trucks online. tell us honestly what worked and what did not. the next step is, everybody ought to file an emergency preparedness plan. that ought to be with the federal communication commission and with the state emergency responder so that, okay, we need to know, what is your assessment of how strong your network is and what do you have in place so that if that 100 year hurricane hits, everybody knows what your
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plan is. to go through and have a plan, rather than to say, our plan is to hope that we get 99 good years. we as the public through the federal commission is commission and state agencies will no what the plan is that is in place. we have got to have a common language of how we are talking about this. we talk about things like networklanguage when we're talkg about this. it is not like at&t is lying when they say we think our network held up reliably and it is taking them three days to get their service on line but it has taken verizon. it is there is not a set way to talk about this. but we have measures we could say, you guys are doing a good say, you guys are doing a good